Author’s Note: Years and years ago, I had a comment on how I always described my characters as tired, that they needed to be more than just tired all the time. I thought that was interesting given they were working without much of a break, almost twenty-four hour days, but since they asked… I did have to say that yes, indeed, I suffered from insomnia, and it has a habit of influencing me. Look at all the poor characters I write that can’t sleep, either.
He winced, and she almost laughed, catching him by the creak in the floorboard just outside her room. She leaned against the door frame, watching him. “Where were you trying to go? Don’t give me that look. If it was just a trip to the toilet, you’d be going the other direction, and you wouldn’t have bothered to get dressed again.”
He sighed. “It’s… I just keep going over the part that I remembered earlier. I seem to want to get more from it, but I can’t. It starts and ends right at the same point every time. I can’t stop replaying it, though. It’s looped and just goes over and over until I can’t stand it. I’ve memorized every detail. I’ve tried figuring out how old I was, but I still can’t pin it down because my voice isn’t that distinctive, my vocabulary isn’t telling me anything, and my hands are just those of a kid, you know? If I saw myself in a mirror, maybe it would be different, but that’s not part of the memory.”
She nodded. “You are getting a bit obsessive about it. Not that it’s surprising, but you need to leave it alone, too. Let it simmer. It’ll come when it’s ready. No use trying to force it.”
“I didn’t want to wake anyone. I thought I’d take a walk outside and try and clear my head.”
She thought that was a good idea. He could use some air and space to think. Maybe that would help open up the memory—or maybe it would just make it so that he could think about something else. Either way, it should help. One thing, though. “It’s still going to be cool out there, despite the summer heat. You might want a jacket.”
He frowned. “You’re not going to stop me?”
She shook her head. She had been tempted to go out there herself, but she hadn’t wanted to leave just in case he had another nightmare. “I used to do the same thing. Well, I’d always end up in the car shed, curled up in the back of Shadow, and Mac would wake me in the morning.”
“I don’t know how you could sleep in that seat. It didn’t seem that comfortable to me when I was in it, and that was not a very long drive.”
“It made me feel safe. That was more important than how cushy the seat was.” Mackenna shrugged, not wanting to get into that too much. She knew that was another part of the reason why Shadow was so special to her. Phantom would end up being like that for Carson, she had a feeling, but they had to get started on its restoration. That was going to be a long process, but it would help him. He could use a project.
She doubted she’d make a mechanic of him, but she could make sure he helped, at least.
“I guess.” He gave her a quick glance and then dropped his eyes to the floor. “Since you’re up… You could come with me. You don’t have to, though. Like I said, I didn’t want to wake the whole house. I just… can’t sleep and can’t sit still. I don’t have work to do, no job, and this isn’t my place, so… Walking around is probably my only option.”
She could think of a few others. “Maybe. I should go with you, though, so that you don’t trip over something in the fields. It wouldn’t be right to let you get hurt out there, and you never know what might be on the ground.”
She rolled her eyes. “You didn’t honestly fall for that one. You grew up on a farm. You know what the fields are like.”
He grinned. “Yeah, I do. So, you gonna put on some clothes and walk with me, or are you headed back to bed?”
She shook her head. She wasn’t sleeping, either. She didn’t know what was keeping her up, since she didn’t have memories to contend with, not right now, and she hadn’t had a nightmare in months. No, she was fine. She supposed that she could blame it on him. She must be worried about him, and that was keeping her awake, trying to puzzle him out like she did one of her cars.
“I’ll change. Give me a second, and I’ll meet you by the backdoor, okay?”
“Sure.” He stopped, turning back to her. “Think of something obscure while you’re at it. You can surprise me when you catch up to me.”
She grinned. “You’re like an addict.”
“I like seeing you geek out.”